White smoke in Brussels: Portugal to get €15.3 billion for Covid recovery

Day four of the ‘two day summit’ in Brussels has resulted in at least a partial plume of white smoke.

Prime minister António Costa told journalists this afternoon that Portugal has been ‘guaranteed’ €15.3 billion in grants from the Recovery Fund – a total he believes still gives the country ‘a good deal’.

It’s not perfect – bearing in mind the original ‘Recovery Fund plan’ has had to be lopped by €110 billion, but it translates into being enough to ‘protect’ Portugal’s ‘national envelopes’, he said.

Whether it will be sufficient long-term, no one can predict, particularly as no-one can predict the evolution of the virus, said Mr Costa.

But for now, it’s a step in the right direction and EU leaders are once again in negotiations to thrash out ‘further details’.

The money due Portugal will start coming in January 2021, said the prime minister, and continue to January 2026.

“It’s an amount with great responsibility because it adds not only to the conclusion of the Portugal 2020 programme but to the future Multiannual Financial Framework which we are still dealing with today. Therefore it gives the country a very significant opportunity to respond energetically to the deep economic crisis that has created serious unemployment.

Without it, we would not have this kind of capacity for response…” he added.

More will come as EU leaders by now have been talking about money since Friday morning and will be anxious to finalise negotiations and get on their way.

Mr Costa will be returning to Portugal ahead of a ‘State of the Nation’ debate scheduled by parliament for Friday.

Talking on TV124 in his habitual slot on Sunday, former deputy PM Paulo Portas said that the majority of people in Portugal are still not mentally prepared for the true extent of crisis in the country’s public finances irrespective of the economic hiatus caused by the pandemic.